Moving Customers, Moving Companies: The Need for Change Agents

Author Pearl S. Buck famously said that, “You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.” Sadly, I can relate. But fortunately, what resonates more for me — a boomer inconceivably near the age of 60 (okay, 59, but that’s already too close for comfort) — is one of her more obscure observations, which is that, “Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.”

When we founded Communispace fourteen years ago (or 98 years in both dog and Internet time), we were exhilarated by the opportunity to create an entirely new offering, to do something no company had done before. Through fearless, client-driven innovation, we experimented, improvised, and developed a range of new approaches for engaging consumers in ongoing, collaborative relationships with brands.

As we grew, we brought in new people, and with them, the kind of fresh and vigorous challenge to received dogma from which every organization can benefit. Now, we’re taking a fresh look not just at how to activate consumers’ energy, but at how to enable companies to more quickly and decisively act on the insights they’re getting.

Here’s one thing we know for sure. Change, growth, innovation, impact – they’re ultimately all about movement. Without movement, people and organizations are inert, stuck, immobilized, and shut off. Indeed, to move is defined as to “to take action; to dislodge or displace from a fixed position; to prompt our rouse to the doing of something; To stir the emotions, feelings, or passions of.”

We are moved by our community members all the time, by the candor of what they reveal and the energy they’re willing to invest in helping brands do better. And our clients tell us how moved they are by the insights we glean and the stories we tell. But all too often, when the storytelling is over, client organizations resume their same old routines, their own “best practices.”

So the challenge is to figure out how to help ourselves and our clients not just be moved, but move their own organizations. We need to understand what obstacles stand in our clients’ way as they try to act on what they’re learning from their customers? How can they advance from being reporters to change agents within their own companies? Over the next few months, my colleague, Manila Austin, will be focusing her considerable research chops on these questions.

But meanwhile, we’d love to hear your perspective. How do you move from insight to impact?

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